Modified my plucking heand technique.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rockin John, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. I've always been a rock-style player who anchors the thumb on the bottom string and plucked from there. But I saw a video of a couple of players who favoured the floating hand technique, and decided to try it.

    There's definitely something to this method. It's early days but it seems easier to get a couple of faster notes in, over my technique before.

    I guess my plucking hand position now comes closer to that of a finger-picker guitarist.

    I wondered whether anyone else shares this observation.

  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I like to 'float' my thumb as well. Of course, I play 6 string as my main instrument, where the lower string muting is more important but I also like the flexibility it gives me to add in things like an emphatic thumb slap to punch in the start of a phrase or to go from a run of notes into sounding a three note chord like root, seventh and tenth.

  3. ampeglb100


    Oct 1, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Basically, I have always rested my thumb on the string above the last string that I am playing. So if I am playing the A string, then I rest on the E, play the D, rest on the A, etc. However, if I am playing something where I use the A mostly and then play one note on the D or G, then I still rest on the E. Likewise, obviously, if I am playing arpeggios or chords, I rest on the string just below the lowest one that I am playing. This keeps everything clean, it is consitent, you can apply it to 4, 5, 6, 7 etc string basses, and you can maintain strict index and middle finger alternation (I don't rake, either), which also adds to consistency. I think this also frees up the left hand a bit as far as muting the strings goes. But, depending on what you are doing, or trying to do, this method may or may not be best. I just watched a video with Jaco and one with John Pattitucci... while they are really really great, they have some, in my humble opinion, weird right hand technique as far as muting goes (i.e. using the ring and index finger on the right to aid in muting, or always "following through" with plucking - meaning that everytime they pluck a string, that finger rests on the string just below the one they plucked... whatever works, I guess, it just seems like more work to me. If you want to see some way messed up right hand technique, watch Geddy Lee play bass, his right hand is all over the place. Don't get me wrong, he is my favorite bassist of all time and it all sounds great in the end, but what the "pros" do isn't always the most efficient or "right" thing to do for everybody else.

  4. oeyj


    Jan 19, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    I use my thumb,first,second, and third fingers when I play. I pivot/anchor on my little finger. This enables me to play rythum and melody simultaneously.
  5. Originally posted by oeyj

    Same here.
  6. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    I've been talking about the muting issue to my electric bass teacher (who is a session ace around here) and his opinion is you don't really need to use floating thumb if you work a lot on your left hand and the co-ordination between the two hands.

    To me anchoring is just the only way to go. I anchor my thumb on the side of the fingerboard on DB too....

  7. Left / right coordination has always been one of the things I've struggled a bit with.

    Fairly quick repetition of the plucking had fingers coupled with moving down the fretboard with the left causes me trouble.......going from pinkey and getting thicker, if you see what I mean:eek:

    For instance Ian Dury's, 'Rythm stick I find very difficult.....not really the R/H staminer thing for the whole song, but just a few bars gets me a bit tied up. Likewise, I messed with the old Deep Pruple number, Black Night. There are 4 bars of what I think you theory guys call semiquaver triplets. That's a real struggle to me. The 24 notes should, of course, be of equal strength and in equal time. But my plucking seems all over the place. And it seems to be related to moving the L/H fingers as the R/H fingers pluck.

    I wonder is there is any wisdom as to how I might practice myself into a better position on this thing. Slowing the tempo down and the notes aren't bad, it's just when it gets faster.

    Just mover to a 5er: that might have something to do with it.


  8. Originally posted by Rockin John

    You could try putting a slight accent on the first note of each triplet, to create more of a swing/rocking (rocking as in motion, not rocking as in 'rawking') feel, this may help. But then, having never heard the song, this may not fit in with the feel that the song is meant to have. Hope this helps, good luck!:)
  9. I may be way off on the comprehension of the floating thumb technique, but here's my two cents. Jaco and John Pattituci use the finger muting technique for a cleaner sound. If you've watched the instructional videos you'll understand that in order for Jaco to get such a clear and consice sound on Donna Lee, he had to use both of his hands as muting tools. I'm starting to find it easier to apply pressure with my thumb on either the E or low B strings as support. This still allows you to slide over the strings in order to get that variety of tones. I'm starting to notice that after a few months of using 3/4 finger picking style that during faster passages, especially while reading sheet music, other string will raddle, even if I didn't pick them. This could be a set up problem or something else, but using the other fingers to mute can be benificial. I guess if you're playing a heavier style of music than strings raddling won't be such a big problem, but if you're trying to play a clean solo in jazz music, it can ruin a good thing.